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  1. #1
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    Default Spiral head jointer with spiral head thicknesser.

    Hi,I'm looking to build some project using reclaimed timber. I've picked up a spiral head thicknesser and am looking for some advice on a jointer.Is there any additional benefit from having a spiral head jointer vs a straight knife jointer when each board will end up getting run through the thicknesser anyway?The unit i'm looking at is a Sherwood 8" (https://www.timbecon.com.au/sherwood...ge-bed-jointer) - I'm thinking i'll get the straight knife unit for now and potentially upgrade in the future is it's worth it?Any advice or experience would be much appreciated.

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  3. #2
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    just get the spiral head now, the cutters in it will still be sharp long after you decided to upgrade from the straight knife.

    the spiral head will be quiter and give a great finish and if you're using reclaimed woods it's easier to swap a couple of cutters if you nick a nail then sharpening a whole straight blade. but if you're going to spend the money on one just do it now.

  4. #3
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    May 2013
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    nothing to add here but just get spiral.

    with spiral cutter block, if buying used, check the knife/countersunk screws. I thought they are the same but no.... there are like almost 10 different types of knives and screws, the buzzer I bought had 3 different type of screws on it, only 1 type was original. needless to say, it didnt give a good result at all when I first got it. I had to hunt around and replace the counter sunk screws and lesson learnt.
    SCM L'Invincibile si X, SCM L'Invincibile S7, SCM TI 145EP, Masterwood OMB1V, Delta RJ42, Nederman S750, Chicago Pneumatics CPRS10500, Ceccato CDX12



  5. #4
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    I’m gonna offer an alternative opinion, just for kicks. You’ll learn more about how to work with wood with a straight knife jointer. Tear out is common, but you can often avoid the worst of it by reading the grain, and taking some care. It’s a useful skill that one. Also, the price point is lower, so I think this is one of those times where it actually makes sense to buy a cheaper unit and upgrade later. I’m normally from the buy once for life camp.

    I agree with the others, it is really nice to have spiral cutter block on the jointer, and if you’re reasonably certain that you’ll carry on with it as a semi-serious hobby, then save yourself the drama and get the spiral now.

    You’re sort-of right about cleaning up on the thicknesser. But I’ve never finished a board straight off the thicknesser either… Always some sanding, or a lick with a hand plane or card scraper. One of the big advantages or spiral cutter block is reduced tear out. In my experience, when I had straight knives, tear out occurred more during jointing, not thicknessing. If it’s not too dramatic, you can usually get it out on the thicknesser, or with sanding. That’s fine for big pieces, but not ideal if you’re working with small/thin stuff.

    I now have spiral cutter block In my combo, And I love it. It really is quite hard to stuff it up. But I have zero regrets from spending small money on a straight knife jointer, learning how to get the best results possible, then selling and upgrading. I had the straight knife jointer for a year or two, got my money back when I sold it, and it gave me confidence to spend the $$$ on the spiral.

  6. #5
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    If I could buy a model with either a straight head or a spiral head for the same cost I would go spiral every time.

    If I could buy a model with a spiral head pkg for significantly cheaper than buying the straight head model and a spiral head for retrofitting, I would do so.

    But if I have to buy the straight head model and, seperately, a spiral head I'd be more inclined to get the straight head.

    Why? because I'd like to put the machine through it's paces first, to ensure the machine is up to expectations before investing the extra coin in the spiral head. It's not like the spiral head will be more expensive if you wait a while, after all.

    Nor are you likely to receive any 'better' after sales support just because you spent a few extra bucks. (Not in any reputable dealership, anyway.)

    Worse csae scenario, return the machine for a refund, buy another elsewhere... and you still have the funds to but the appropriate head for the new machine.
    I may be weird, but I'm saving up to become eccentric.

    - Andy Mc

  7. #6
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    Jul 2014
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    When I was looking for a jointer, the cost of a new straight blade unit + aftermarket helical head was the same or more than buying a new helical head fitted jointer. If you have the budget for it, just get the helical head now and call it a day. No ones mentioned changing blades... the spiral/helical heads are easy to change and no setting required. If you're a hobbyist, the 4 sided carbide cutters will last years.

  8. #7
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    There's loads of factors when deciding whether to get spiral head or straight blade

    I'm a fan of spiral head cutters and they are all the rage at the moment but the elephant in the room is at the end of the day the cost spiral heads cost significantly more than straight blade cutters.

    No doubt the benefits potentially justify the expense associated with the initial outlay but this ultimately depends on the end user to decide.

    My 2c
    - Everyone talks about the finish off spiral head cutters, but have you ever seen the finish off sharp straight blades? its like glass provided you know what you're doing ie following grain etc. If you're working with difficult grain wood then sure spiral hands down wins, but most readily available timbers at most lumber yards are far from exotic. Besides unless you're getting major tear out, the finish is a mute point as every project i've worked on ends up getting sanded so finish straight out of machine is irrelevant.
    - Cutting life of spiral head, sure blades last longer ie you've got up to 4 cutting surfaces on each blade and loads of individual cutters. Whether this is a benefit ultimately depends on the end user. Do you envisage doing woodworking for the next decade or two to really make a return on investment? Do you have trust that your taiwanese/chinese made machinery will last that long? Do you do that much woodworking to justify the extra initial investment? I'm a weekend warrior and get my thicknesser blades sharpen every 2-3 years mostly due to knicks in the blade. Blade sharpening costs around $90, would easily be 20+ years before i get a return on investment. The other factor is resetting the blades which is a pain, but as said its a job done every couple of years and takes a couple of hours to complete. No real dramas there
    - Spiral heads have more areas where things can go wrong, ie you over torque your bolts best case is you've broken the cutter, worse case you've stripped the threads
    - Not a major issue, but cutting depth on spiral head is less than straight blades

    To me there's some clear advantages to spiral heads:
    - Noise, but given you've probably got a dust extractor running at the same time so its probably irrelevant but still a benefit
    - Long life/low maintenance, this to me is the biggest selling point. The fact that i've had my spiral head for approx 8 years and has never had any real maintenance done on it is a huge win, my straight blade thicknesser probably has had about 10 hours worth of maintenance during the same time period.
    - You can blindly send boards through a spiral head without having to think about grain direction
    - If you work with reclaimed timber blade knicks can be a pain, but as said you end up sanding projects anyway so blade knicks are not that big of a deal either.

    Hope that helps you with your decision

  9. #8
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    Nice question, Simon.

    The really big advantage of spiral cutters is that they are much quieter. About 10 decibells quieter than straight cutters - 10 dB is literally a halving of the noise pressure.

    The second advantage is that they have tungsten blades so they stay sharp longer, then you rotate the blades. Ditto, if you hit a nail - just rotate the blade.

    The final advantage is that they cut a little better and there is slightly less tear out. But this is a small advantage, and quite a few people cannot tell the difference.

    But spiral heads are not cheap. I would suggest that you consider three options:
    1. Price of jointer with straight cutters - listed $1,699.
    2. Price of jointer with spiral cutters - listed $2,499.
    3. Price of after market spiral cutters - circa $800.

    I suspect that option 2 will cost virtually the same as options 1 plus 3 - the difference being that in option 2 the distrubutor fits the spiral head and keeps the staight head.

  10. #9
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    another spiral head advantage that isn't often brought up is the dust collection:

    if your dust collection is pretty average be prepared to get build ups in the lines etc just to the large wide nature of the chips that come off the straight blades.

    the chips that come off the spiral cutters are more of a smaller chip which seem to flow better.

  11. #10
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    Default

    Noise is much less with a spiral/helical head

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by GraemeCook View Post
    10 dB is literally a halving of the noise pressure.
    dB is a log scale, and a reduction of 3dB is a halving of noise level.

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mpot View Post
    dB is a log scale, and a reduction of 3dB is a halving of noise level.
    Thanks; I double checked and you are correct.

    But there is something strange with human perceptions happening here. A couple of years ago I assisted in an experiment actually measuring the noise output of several machines, interchanging straight and spiral heads. The measured differences varied between 9 and 12 dB, and that sounded like half the volume. Hence my preumption of a decimal scale.

    In actuality, with sound levels doubling with every 3 dB increment and increase of 10 dB would increase the sound level thus:
    • = 2 ^ ( 10/3 ) = 10.079
    • reciprocal 10.079 = 0.099 or 10%.

    Thus changing from a straight cutter to a spiral head would, on average, reduce the noise level by 10 dB or 90%. But my ears did not perceive this range of reduction; they thought it was about 50%.

    [Please correct my maths if errant.]

  14. #13
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    Iím absolutely no expert here, but my understanding is that a reduction from say 90db to 80db produces a two thirds reduction in amplitude ratio - from around 30,000 to 10,000 rather than a 90% reduction.

    Also we presumably need to take into account the noise the machine makes in itself, i.e. the non-cutter noise will presumably remain pretty constant whether there are straight or spiral blades?

    Apologies if Iíve got this wrong - it has been a while since I left school

    Regards,

    Brian

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by homey View Post
    Iím absolutely no expert here, ...
    Me, too!

    I said 50%,
    You say 67%,
    I think mpot implied 90%.

    My guess is that our hearing automatically adjusts and our perceptions of changes in sound level are different from what a meter measures. I am sure the correct answer will emerge!

    [We just used a simple hand held decibell meter which measured all noises - blade, machine, background - it had no ability to discriminate.]

  16. #15
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    Spiral. You're right that for thicknessing boards alone it doesn't really matter straight vs spiral but there are a few advantages past that.

    Edge jointing for glue ups, I don't even bother reading grain direction unless it's a gnarly grained timber typically. Quieter, little to no maintenance after 5 yrs, no messing with knife setting jigs etc. The only downside is the limitation of how much material you can take in one pass, plus the added cost at purchase i suppose.

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